There was a time—mostly during Season One—when Dexter could do no wrong. He was a Merry Prankster of Mayhem, deftly darting between the pastel hues of a cartoon Miami by day, and its opaquely sinister washes by night. Sure, he was a serial killer, but he only killed really bad people the law couldn’t, or wouldn’t, touch. He was an Everyman, just getting through the complications of work and love by day, while dispensing deadly judge, jury and executioner justice by night. It was all implied—you never saw him actually dismember anybody, but you knew retribution had been served, and that the next morning would be bathed in watercolor sunlight. Dexter was a dark avenger, a whimsical comic book kind of guy who would go out of his way to bring doughnuts to his friends, while not giving a second thought to chopping evildoers into fish food. It was that comical dichotomy that made him so endearing.
Season Two has been no such picnic for either Dexter or the viewer. Even though it opened with promising Dexter inner monologue, “I really need to. . .kill somebody,” much of the season has found him confronting his demons within and without, while attempting to maintain his unflappable façade. Even before the first episode was over, treasure-hunting divers inadvertently came across Dexter’s underwater dumping ground, prompting an FBI manhunt for the killer the press dubbed “the Bay Harbor Butcher.” It certainly doesn’t help that the Feds have assigned their superstar manhunter, Agent Lundy (Keith Carradine) to oversee the investigation. To complicate matters even more, Dexter’s adoptive sister, Deb, is in a May-December romantic relationship with the Zen-like Lundy.
On top of all that, Dexter’s blossoming relationship with Rita has apparently gone to hell, due in no small part to his dalliances with his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, Lila (Jaime Murray). She’s a perfect counterpoint to Dexter—where he’s cautious, she’s reckless, where he attempts to hide his true self, she wears her persona like a badge. For all her superficialities, though, there’s something very dark about her, and her motives may be even more twisted than Dexter’s.
Then there’s Doakes. He’s been a foil for Dexter from Day One, He’s been steadfastly pursuing Dexter since this season’s first episode. The question that arises is, why? It’s been established that Doakes has his own dark past, some of it having to do with his military Special Ops past, and he’s not above eliminating bad guys without benefit of due process. Now that Dexter has him imprisoned, Doakes might be a source of clues to Dexter’s origins.